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Environmentalists call on McDonnell to drop offshore drilling plan

Anita Kumar

A coalition of four environmental groups is urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to drop his strong support of offshore oil and natural gas drilling off Virginia's coast.

The groups are starting a petition drive today to collect 10,000 signatures and will hold a rally Friday morning on Virginia Beach.

"Bob McDonnell, despite the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, continues to say he doesn't want to slow down one bit,'' Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network said on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.

An explosion and fire April 20 on an exploratory well in the gulf left 11 workers missing and presumed dead.

McDonnell (R), who has made drilling one of his administration's top priorities, flew to Houston on Monday to tout the benefits of offshore drilling at an industry-sponsored conference. He has said that he does not want to postpone drilling but to learn from the accident off Louisiana's coast.

"Everybody understands energy exploration is an inherently dangerous business whether it's gas or oil wells, coal mines, nuclear -- all the ways we produce power are inherently dangerous,'' McDonnell said. "These things are going to part and parcel of the human experience. I think the goal now over the next couple years ... to find out what happened, and how we can make it better."

The environmentalists noted that in the weeks since the accident the California and Florida governors have withdrawn support for drilling. The Post reported earlier this week that other Virginia officials also are reconsidering their support for drilling.

"The governor's position is out of step with nearby states','' said Deborah Murray, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

She and her colleagues are encouraging McDonnell to focus more on wind energy, which the governor has said he supports.

Earlier this week, the Democratic Party of Virginia also criticized McDonnell for his stance on drilling.

"A spill of this magnitude off Virginia's coast would devastate our coastal economy and endanger the effectiveness of the world's largest Navy base at Norfolk,'' said Dave Mills, the party's executive director. "A responsible leader with the right priorities for Virginia would join Senators Webb and Warner in their common-sense approach."

President Obama vowed Friday that no expansion of offshore oil drilling would take place until federal investigations into the gulf accident are complete.

Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb said they agreed with Obama that drilling should be delayed. Warner said it was "appropriate" for Obama to delay offshore projects until safeguards are in place to prevent rig explosions like the one that caused the gulf spill, his spokesman Kevin Hall said. Webb said, "The facts must be ascertained to determine how the disaster off the Gulf Coast could have been prevented" before drilling takes place, his spokeswoman Jessica Smith said.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 5, 2010; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Drill baby Drill!!!!!

Posted by: ged0386 | May 5, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

@ged0386 - another brilliant mind.

Virginia is for Lovers of brain-dead rednecks who think they are still living in the 1700's.

You know they found a cure for cancer? It's called stop dumping all the toxic exhaust into the air and water so you never get the disease.

You're all so worried about passing debt to your children, but I'm betting they'd rather breath first and deal with the money later.

Posted by: thuff7 | May 5, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

McDonnell is in BP and Halliburton’s pocket at the expense of Virginia's multi-billion Tourism and Commercial Fishing Industries, not to mention our environmental beauty and resources. The GOP Drill-Baby-Drill and Tea Party folks are funded by Koch Industries which is responsible for Hundreds of Oil spills across multiple states.

We need to rely on Innovation, Efficiency and Technology instead of just trying to suck up a limited amount of oil out of the ground. One direction leads to education, competition and advancement and the other leads to limited job growth in fields not even requiring a GED except for those whose job is to figure out how to gouge the taxpayer at the pump and to pay for their environmental pollution.

Oil drilled off the VA coast will not be sold and used in Virginia, it will be sold on the World market. Royalties from Oil will not go directly to VA beach communities; it will be spread out all over the state, though VA beach will suffer the most in case of an accident.

We must develop Alternatives to Oil and Coal and Create Jobs in other Industries for the benefit of our Economy and National Security. Using 25% of the Worlds Oil while only owning 3% only benefits Oil Industry gouging of the public while Gulf Coast Drillers enjoy both Public Subsidies and Tax exempt status as they pay their royalties then sell the Oil on the Open market.

Posted by: liveride | May 5, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Oil is still a necessary evil and until America get's it's head out of it's a**, and starts producing better and more efficient alternatives, then people need to quit complaining.

Posted by: zcxnissan | May 5, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Oil and Coal Obstructionist (Drill-Baby-Drill, Tea Party, Massey Energy, Koch Industries etc.,) Politicians drag their feet on Efficiency and Alternatives that make us Energy Independent. We have alternatives to Oil and Coal. They are Biofuels created from Domestic Cellulosic Ethanol; Electric/Hybrid sources powered by Wind, Solar, Biomass, Static Fuel Cell, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Hydro, and Geothermal; Freight Rail (I-81 corridor); Greater Efficiency Standards (miles per gallon, etc.,). These technologies create Millions of domestic Jobs for a wide spectrum of fields from Farmers to Technology Innovators while insuring Job Creation, Energy Independence, Economic and National Security.

Posted by: liveride | May 5, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Another day, another McDonnell bashing article by Kumar.

Can she really make a career out of this?

Seems like a one-trick pony.

Posted by: postfan1 | May 5, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Kumar is clearly an affirmative action hire. Besides being the most partisan Leftist not writing on the Opinion page, she has no talent..

Posted by: wewintheylose | May 5, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Where can we go to sign the petition? Is there an online link?

Posted by: NoVaReader3 | May 6, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

and how do these people propose to get around to get these will they get to their meetings??? BY DRIVING and by using Oil...or are they all gonna ride their bikes? They're so hypocritical. They want to use oil when they need it but don't want to drill for it! do they not see the lunacy in this?

Posted by: scho31 | May 6, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

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